Myrrh is a natural gum or resin extracted from a number of small, thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Myrrh resin has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense, and medicine. Myrrh mixed with wine can also be ingested. Commiphora myrrha is native to Somalia, Oman, Yemen, Eritrea, (Somali Region) of Ethiopia and parts of Saudi Arabia. The word myrrh corresponds with a common Semitic root m-r-r meaning “bitter”, as in Aramaic murr and Arabic مُرّ murr. Its name entered the English language from the Hebrew Bible, where it is called מור mor, and later as a Semitic loanword was used in the Greek myth of Myrrha, and later in the Septuagint; in the Ancient Greek language, the related word μῠ́ρον (múron) became a general term for perfume. The 5th dynasty ruler of Egypt King Sahure recorded the earliest attested expedition to the land of Punt, modern day Horn of Africa particularly Somalia which brought back large quantities of myrrh, frankincense, malachite and electrum. Other products that were also brought back included wild animals, particularly cheetahs, the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius), giraffes and Hamadryas baboons (which was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians), ebony, ivory and animal skins. Sahure is shown celebrating the success of this venture in a relief from his mortuary temple which shows him tending a myrrh tree in the garden of his palace named “Sahure’s splendor soars up to heaven”. This relief is the only one in Egyptian art depicting a king gardening. Myrrh was used by the ancient Egyptians, along with natron, for the embalming of mummies. Myrrh is mentioned as a rare perfume in several places in the Hebrew Bible. In Genesis 37:25, the Ishmaelite traders to whom Jacob’s sons sold their brother Joseph had “camels … loaded with spices, balm, and myrrh,” and Exodus 30:23-25 specifies that Moses was to use 500 shekels of liquid myrrh as a core ingredient of the sacred anointing oil. Myrrh was an ingredient of Ketoret: the consecrated incense used in the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem, as described in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud. An offering was made of the Ketoret on a special incense altar and was an important component of the temple service. Myrrh is also listed as an ingredient in the holy anointing oil used to anoint the tabernacle, high priests and kings. Myrrh was recorded in the first century BC by Diodorus Siculus to have been traded overland and by sea via Nabatean caravans and sea ports, which transported it from indigenous Ethiopian sources in Southern Arabia to their capital city of Petra, from which it was distributed throughout the Mediterranean region. Myrrh is mentioned in the New Testament as one of the three gifts (with gold and frankincense) that the magi “from the East” presented to the Christ Child (Matthew 2:11). Myrrh was also present at Jesus’ death and burial. Jesus was offered wine and myrrh before the crucifixion (Mark 15:23). According to John’s Gospel, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea brought a 100-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes to wrap Jesus’ body (John 19:39). The Gospel of Matthew relates that as Jesus went to the cross, he was given vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink (Matthew 27:34); the Gospel of Mark describes the drink as wine mingled with myrrh (Mark 15:23). Because of its mention in the New Testament, myrrh is an incense offered during some Christian liturgical celebrations. Liquid myrrh is sometimes added to egg tempera in the making of icons. Myrrh is mixed with frankincense and sometimes more scents and is used in almost every service of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, traditional Roman Catholic, and Anglican/Episcopal churches. Myrrh is also used to prepare the sacramental chrism used by many churches of both Eastern and Western rites. In the Middle East, the Eastern Orthodox Church traditionally uses oil scented with myrrh (and other fragrances) to perform the sacrament of chrismation, which is commonly referred to as “receiving the Chrism”.According to the Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine, “The Messenger of Allah stated, ‘Fumigate your houses with al-shih, murr, and sa’tar.’” The author claims that this use of the word “murr” refers specifically to Commiphora myrrha. (from Wikipedia)